I never played EarthBound at my house, when I was a kid. My dad had this thing about video games, despite regularly playing his Intellivision and the original Game Boy Brick he had taken from me in third grade because “it would ruin my eyes.” (The truth was, the Tetris monkey had climbed onto his back.) So, I could never really enjoy games at home until high school. Which meant I didn’t have as much quality time with one of the best SNES RPGs I can remember at home.
No, EarthBound was a special treat. It was my weekend game, which meant the only time I could play was on Saturdays, when I was over at my grandpa’s house for the afternoon. If I was lucky, I’d manage three hours at a time, most of which was spent grinding or exploring every possible area for secrets. This was before the internet, after all, and I didn’t go in for Game Sharks.
I’m glad my first experience with EarthBound was like that, however, because it let me savor the game. Going through in such small doses forced me to pay closer attention to what I was doing, to realize the effects of level grinding, to appreciate the humor and, most importantly, to make the moments last. I wasn’t rushing through, as I did with the “Final Fantasy” Game Boy games. I was paying attention to every moment.
It took me three months, but I did eventually finish EarthBound. I struggled through the final battles, was surprised at what was actually required to defeat the final boss and marveled at the journey I had experienced. The next week, I started it all over again, because I knew there was probably more I hadn’t seen. I wasn’t ready for my adventures with Ness, Paula, Jeff and Poo.
Unfortunately, good things don’t always last. I entered high school and, after being mocked for liking games, I admittedly caved. I toned back a bit on my hobby and tried to devote time to other “girly” past-times in an attempt to bond with my new friends. I’d still play, I didn’t miss out on Final Fantasy VII or the PlayStation generation, but my old NES, SNES and Genesis favorites weren’t getting much love anymore.
Which somehow lead to my copy of Earthbound and original SNES getting lost to the ages. I know they were never sold, my parents and grandpa knew I always wanted to keep and collect my systems, but it simply disappeared. Ever since I started this whole video game journalism thing, I’ve attempted to find it again, but to no avail. It’s been missing in action since 2007 and I thought I’d never replace it. After all, a copy of EarthBound can easily go for $100. I love it, but don’t have that kind of money to spend.
Then, a light appeared on Thursday, July 18, 2013. EarthBound appeared on my Wii U, like a heavenly bee warrior sent from a distant, dystopian future. Some may have scoffed at the price, but for me, $9.99 was worth experiencing a game that meant so much to me when I was young again.
And true enough, EarthBound was as delightful as I remembered. It was just as beautiful, funny and entertaining. Honestly? It was as though it hadn’t aged a day. I reveled in the my chance to experience one of my first RPG loves again.
Though, admittedly, some things have changed. The included digital strategy guide, for one, is a nice bonus and something I would have loved to have back as a kid. Also, I’m up to about two hours a night, as opposed to two hours a week. Most importantly, I think I appreciate it more. I’m at an age where I realize games like EarthBound don’t come along every day. As much as I love more recent RPG epics, like Skyrim, Final Fantasy X and Dragon Age: Origins, there’s nothing like an afternoon spent with EarthBound. My only hope is that this rerelease will expose even more people to this incredible game and impact their lives as well.